Masterful Maniti dominate at Spa
Wild Animals racing have assumed a modest lead at the halfway stage of the Apex Racing League GT Team Championship (ARL GT). Heading into round three at Spa Francorchamps, the Russian outfit arrive in a rich vein of form, after a victory at Silverstone.
In the AM class, the ascendant Kairos Competition squad also arrive buoyed by a victory at the home of British motorsport. Can they repeat this success in the Ardennes?
Daytona winners, Maniti Racing, made a shock mid-season switch from Corvette to Porsche. Thus, incurring a points penalty. However, Dylan Scrivens made the most of this investment by qualifying on pole position. Ominously, Scrivens lapped two tenths faster than the championship leading Wild Animals Porsche. Vulcan Sim Racing topped the AM class qualifiers, as Luke Mckeown hauled the #122 machine to seventh overall.
Keen to make amends for their Silverstone setback, Dylan Scrivens bolted early in the Maniti Porsche 911 RSR. Within the opening five minutes, Scirvens stretched three seconds from the chasing Triple A Esports and Wild Animals Porsches.
Wild Animals Porsche ace, Dmitry Kofanov, fended off the swarm of Triple A Esports Porsches in the opening stages. By lap five, the Russian star’s patience ran out. An ambitious lunge on Amaury Bonduel, at the bus stop, sent Kofanov off track and down the order. Eventually, Kofanov would re join in ninth.
Dusting himself off, Kofanov quickly mounted his ascent back up the field. However, the Russian’s rise halted abruptly at Eau Rouge on lap eleven. Tangling with the Fuga Sim Sport Corvette, Kofanov’s Porsche speared into the tyre wall, incurring severe damage.
By the halfway mark, Maniti Racing’s debut with the Porsche 911 RSR-17 progressed beautifully. Triple A Esports brace of Porsches languished eleven seconds behind. First of the non-Weissach built cars, was the Pacific Sim Motorsport Corvette C8.R. In the AM class, Vulcan Sim Racing held a commanding advantage in their Porsche. Silverstone AM winners, Kairos Competition, were Vulcan’s nearest challenger but faced a twenty second gap to overcome.
Two minutes later, Maniti Racing triggered a pit lane frenzy. Dylan Scrivens had earned his keep and handed over the Maniti Porsche to Alexander Masia. Curiously, Florian Lebigre took the Triple A Esports Project X for another lap before heading to pit lane and handing over to Benjamin Lessennes.
Following the pit lane frenzy, Kenny Roosen had lost second place to sister Triple A Esports Porsche. Roosen eventually reclaimed the runners up spot after a prolonged effort overhauling his colleague, Benjamin Lessennes.
Once Alexander Masia was into his groove, the Norwegian charged off into the Belgian sunset and a second victory of the season for the Maniti squad.
Twenty-five minutes from the flag, an AM class battle seemingly sewn up by Vulcan Sim Racing, suddenly ignited. A tangle with a backmarker sent the Vulcan Porsche spinning into the wall at the terrifyingly quick Blanchimont left-hander. When Mohammed Janko eventually re-joined, he did so with the enormous rear diffuser of the Kairos Competition Porsche 911 RSR immediately ahead. Seething from an easy win gone begging, Janko locked in battle with Kairos Competition’s Irish ace, Kevin Finn. In spite of his wounded machine, Janko reclaimed the AM class lead.
Kevin Finn’s valiant efforts for the AM class lead had inflicted harm on the Irishman’s Michelin tyres, causing a spin on the exit of Stavelot. This allowed Janko to scamper to the AM class victory. Furthermore, Finn’s error allowed the wonderfully groovy Razahollikz BMW art car into second place.
Immediately after the race, several of the ARL GT drivers joined Sam Fitzpatrick and Daniel Handover to offer their thoughts on the action:
Dylan Scrivens: “That was a combination of a good set up, a really good feeling in the car and it felt really hooked up. It just all came together. It went pretty well.”
EJ O’Donnell: “We had a rough time in qualifying, so we started twentieth and had to get things going at the start. We managed to get up to P1 in AM and Kevin just had a small moment, but he did a great job to get it back together.”
On the 13th of December, the Apex Racing League GT Team Championship reaches its conclusion at an iconic endurance racing venue, Suzuka. Home to the world’s single most important motorcycle race, the Suzuka 8 hour, this Japanese figure of eight will provide the ideal venue for an ARL GT showdown.
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